In today’s constantly connected world, anyone who uses the internet (read: just about everyone in the United States) should be concerned with following proper cybersecurity measures. Of course, recent headlines tell us that consumers are often far too lax when it comes to giving out their personal information — and even major corporations don’t seem too concerned about protecting that information. But while business owners and online shoppers alike should take steps to prevent issues with internet security, it’s also essential for divorcing couples to protect themselves and their digital communications.
Although divorce rates in the U.S. are on the decline, 40 to 50% of marriages still end in divorce for Americans. And while the digital age has culminated in a number of beneficial advancements, our increasingly tech-driven world can also make it hard for soon-to-be exes to navigate divorce proceedings and to ensure that their best interests are safeguarded. Even before a separation has occurred, partners might violate the other’s privacy by installing a GPS tracker on a vehicle or downloading an app on a phone to provide proof of infidelity or other problems within the relationship. Even if one spouse has moved out and a divorce is in the works, that may not stop digital threats. Announcing a divorce on social media or venting about a former partner — even on a supposedly private account — might seem innocuous, but these actions have been known to have a significant impact on the outcome of divorce proceedings.
Of course, keeping your mouth shut and fingers quiet is a good policy when it comes to discussing your divorce on social media or through texts and emails. But since there are a number of instances that could potentially be admissible in court, it’s a good idea to cover your bases. Whether you still live in the same household with your future ex or you’ve established separate domiciles, you’ll want to take precautions to ensure that your digital communications won’t be intercepted by your former partner.
If you’ve shared an email address with your spouse, you’ll want to register one for yourself and discontinue the use of any inboxes that your ex has or had access to. It’s better to start fresh than to change the password and lock your ex out of an account they use regularly. Be sure that your new account has a strong password; you might even consider using the service LastPass to automatically change your passwords regularly to options that are virtually impossible to hack. It’s also a good idea to turn on two-factor authentication, which will alert you on your mobile device or through another means when a password change is requested or when an unfamiliar login is registered. In addition, you may want to start encrypting your hard drive and your online communications and text messages. This can make it far more difficult for sensitive data to be accessed by anyone (your ex-spouse included). For that matter, you should consider changing your phone number or even getting a new device for security reasons. If you still need to contact your ex, you can do so through your attorney or via a WiFi connection. And speaking of WiFi, always use secure (read: password-protected) WiFi networks and change the password to the WiFi network you use at home. Getting a VPN (virtual private network) might not be a bad idea, either.
Navigating a divorce is never an easy task. But in the age of technology, clients need to be even more vigilant about their privacy. Failing to take action early on can leave individuals vulnerable to legal action or unnecessary hiccups during divorce proceedings. But with these tips in mind, clients should be in a better place to safeguard everything they do online.